Star power. It’s hard to achieve in daytime, but some actors have mastered it thanks to powerful portrayals, a character that inspires fan adulation, or simply having that certain “it” factor. And these soap stars certainly have it.
Top 10 Most Famous Soap Stars
There’s no denying that these impressive actors helped put daytime on the map. Here’s our list of the 10 most famous soap stars, past and present.
1. Anthony Geary
Originally hired for a 13-week stint on General Hospital, Anthony Geary’s raw gritty portrayal of anti-hero Luke Spencer quickly grew into a contract role, as he became the most recognizable face of the medium by 1980. He holds the record for the most Daytime Emmy victories having won the trophy for Outstanding Lead Actor eight times.
2. Genie Francis
Where would Luke have been without Laura? Genie Francis, who still appears on GH, is just as revered as her former TV husband. Viewers adored watching her character blossom from a sweet naive teenager into a strong vibrant woman, despite her often questionable choices. As Laura emerged as Luke’s partner in romance and adventure, Francis became an idol to a younger generation of soap fans.
3. Susan Lucci
Actress, author, and TV host, Susan Lucci spent over 40 years playing the irrepressible Erica Kane on All My Children. It was her failure to win a Daytime Emmy, despite 18 nominations, that made her the top news story every year, until she finally snagged the Outstanding Lead Actress trophy in 1999.
4. Jonathan Frid
A pair of fangs forever changed the course of Canadian actor Jonathan Frid’s life, when he was cast as vampire Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows. The four-year gig, from 1967 to 1971, saw Frid emerge as the standout character on the gothic serial and become a household name.
5. Eric Braeden
Although Eric Braeden was initially hesitant about accepting a gig on daytime, playing Victor Newman brought him even greater stardom than primetime – he once starred in Rat Patrol – and film had done. His layered portrayal of The Young and the Restless’ mustached mogul is unquestionably the most powerful character on soaps.
6. Deidre Hall
She began her career as children’s superhero Electra Woman, but it’s been as Days of our Lives shrink Marlena Evans that Deidre Hall has become a household name. Along the way, she’s even had a collector Barbie doll made in her likeness. How many primetime stars can make that claim?
7. Ronn Moss
Albeit no longer a member of The Bold and the Beautiful cast, Ronn Moss’s version of Ridge Forrester was iconic. And the soap’s success overseas made him an international superstar. His former wife, actress Shari Shattuck, once remarked that traveling to Italy with him was like vacationing with Elvis – recognized everywhere with absolutely no peace or privacy.
8. Melody Thomas Scott
She started out as a child actress in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie and worked opposite John Wayne in The Shootist, but Melody Thomas Scott’s best career move was taking over the role of Nikki on YR. Portraying the stripper turned respectable wife of Victor Newman catapulted Scott’s daytime standing, earning her a stand-alone episode celebrating her 40 years on the soap in 2019.
9. Maurice Benard
Playing manic mobster Sonny Corinthos on GH has given Maurice Benard, who suffers from bipolar disorder in real life, the opportunities to shine on and off-screen. Over the years, he’s become a celebrity spokesperson for Mental Health America, made two appearances on Oprah, and released autobiography, Nothing General About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me On and Off General Hospital.
10. Alison Sweeney, DAYS
As a 16-year-old debuting as Sami Brady on Days of our Lives, all Alison Sweeney wanted to do was cause trouble and stick around for a while. She realized that dream and so much more, parlaying bratty Sami into a primetime career, hosting NBC’s The Biggest Loser, and appearing in (and producing) an array of Hallmark TV movies.